Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Celebrating young people: Investing in the future #youthday

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that there are 1.8 billion young people  in the world. Today as we mark the International Youth Day we are celebrating and paying tribute to these talented, energetic and creative young people.

These young people are the very people who can and are willing to change the world and make it a better place.

For those of us who do not fall in the 10-24 age bracket, if you were to close your eyes and imagine the youth of today, what are some of the images and characteristics that come to mind?
  • the internet generation, who lives and breaths on technology
  • a generation who if separated from their hand-held device will perish
  • an educated generation with a giving attitude, with the desire to change the world for a better place
  • a generation that believes in collective action
  • a promising generation of accomplished CEOs, CFOs and CIOs
  • a "virtual and social networked" generation 
  • a generation that converses with instant messages
  • a generation that excels in cutting through information clutter
Whatever your image of the younger generation,  let's not forget the 500 million young people who live on less $2 a day. Let's not forget that 60 per cent of these young people with high potential are neither at school or have any type of employment - be it regular or irregular.

According to Dr  Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UNFPA “Today, nine in 10 of the world’s 1.8 billion young people live in less developed countries, where the young encounter obstacles to their rights – to education, to health, to live free from violence. Many of these young people may never realize their full potential, as leaders, as change-agents, as entrepreneurs, as people with the power to transform the future,”

Imagine a world where these very same young people have overcome their many challenges and can fully benefit from and actively contribute to the 2015 edition of Youth Day theme "Youth Civic Engagement." Imagine a world where these same young people have access to the technological revolution that their peers are benefitting from. Imagine a world where these same young people are able to fulfil their dreams and aspirations. Imagine a world where these same young people have the opportunity to become accomplished CEOs, CFOs and CIOs.

I think we can build a world where all young people can have a better and brighter future.

So next time, you are presented with the opportunity to advocate on their behalf, do so. Next time you have the opportunity to raise awareness about their challenges, do so.

Next time find an opportunity to extend a helping hand to young person, do so. Next time you have an opportunity to coach and mentor them, do so. Next time you have an opportunity of sharing your experience, do so.

And if they show arrogance and have a "I know it all attitude", be patient and persevere. The ones who want to learn will do so and yes there will be those who will display arrogance. But hopefully they will be few and far between.
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